The career of a clinical laboratory or medical laboratory technician is an extremely important one, not to mention, exciting and full of variety. Such a career does not involve direct interaction with the patient, but is extremely crucial for the recovery of the same. These laboratory technicians constantly work behind closed doors, finding as much as they can about a particular disease, the amount of virus or bacteria that is ailing the patient. This career has huge prospects and is slated to become one the most sought-after professions between 2014-2024 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics or BLS.
The gradual rise in the number of diseases is sure to create more opportunities for laboratory technicians in the United States. Besides, the governments of are constantly trying to improve the quality of medical services to the citizens which will create more such jobs.
The clinical technicians have to deal with human fluid samples, tissues and cells to identify abnormalities. Their findings are of great importance in treating a patient or a particular condition. Sometimes they also required studying the effects of particular drugs on cells which can lead to further research. The results of their findings are used by doctors to treat patients. They have to examine the specimens using machines like microscopes, automatic laboratory equipment, advanced computers and also maintain the data of the samples examined. Transferring the correct data to the families of patients and their doctors is a part of their job.
A professional laboratory technician usually works in hospitals, pharmaceutical facilities, research facilities, biotechnology companies, veterinary clinics, fertility clinics, food industry, diagnostic centers, dental clinics and also federal agencies. They have a separate workstation away from the rest of the clinic and hidden from the view of the patients and general people. Only authorized personnel are allowed entry to such laboratories because they always deal with sensitive samples and require extreme dedication and concentration.
The work involves dealing with hazardous and highly infectious materials. The technicians, therefore, have to be extremely cautious and take adequate protection while conducting the tests. For a major part of their working hours, they have to wear goggles, masks, and gloves for protection against harmful bacteria and viruses. The technicians have to undergo safety training from time to time to get updated about newer methods of protection.
Laboratory technicians enjoy a flexibility in their time since most hospitals and diagnostic centers requires people 24x7. They can work in various shifts like morning, evening and night shifts as well as on holidays in case the organization requires their assistance. Hospitals are dedicated to the service of patients and are considered amongst the emergency services of a country. Hence all employees, including the clinical technicians have to be available on the premises at all times.
The earning capacity of a laboratory technician is immense because trained and professional ones are highly paid. They cannot work independently of an organization and must always remain associated with one. The average median salary for a technician is around $60,500 in the United States. The highest bracket of the salary can be $59,400 while the lower can be $38,300. Better salary can be earned at the outpatient facilities. This is followed by physician offices, hospitals, and diagnostic laboratories. Laboratory technicians with more experience are likely to draw better salaries than those joining as fresher.
Students interested in becoming a laboratory technician require a bachelor’s degree in medical technology from an accredited university. The course being pursued as well as the institution has to be accredited by a proper medical authority. The two-year degree course is accredited by the American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science. In the United States, the training programs can be found anywhere in the country. The courses pursue the focus on regular laboratory knowledge, general science, and research techniques. Apart from attaining the basic technician degree, laboratory technicians can pursue professional certification from organizations like the American Medical Technologists. There are a number of universities offering campus-based as well as online studying facilities. Among the on-campus studying facilities, many also offer housing options which are beneficial for students. Students need to have biology, maths, chemistry in their high school to enroll in the courses.
Precision and method are extremely important in such a profession because the samples have to be dealt with in a delicate manner so that they are utilized properly for medical examination. Also, a keen analytical sense is very important apart from the interest in subjects like science, medicine, and technology. The possession of such interests is bound to help the potential technician prosper and grow in his or her career. The reports for the examinations are crucial for continuing medical treatment and require optimum concentration, precision, and proper reporting and documenting. The slightest mistake in measuring or documenting the levels can have disastrous consequences.
Just like all other fields where technology occupies a huge part, the profession of the laboratory technician requires an interest in evolving technology and science and the newest methods that can be adapted for better research. In this field of study, potential students can go on to pursue master’s and doctorate degree as well and even become laboratory directors.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics has predicted a growth of nearly 14% in this particular field of medical profession.
Manual dexterity is very important for the profession along with patience and the ability to work for long hours. Technicians have to sit or even stand for long and work for the most part of the day and require immense physical stamina and patience. Examining a particularly difficult specimen might take hours during which time they have to keep taking notes. They also have to be good in communication and juggling more than one task. Keeping a cool mind is very important in this profession.
Clinical technicians require a license or work registration to function in most states. Even though the requirements of the work vary from one state to another, in most cases the technicians have to pass an examination for the permission. New recruits often have to undergo traineeship and a probationary period before actually working full-fledged as a professional. Apart from the certificate from the local medical body, a national certification is also required so that the individual can work anywhere across the country. The certificate has to be submitted to the employer along with other necessary papers. In the US, this certification is usually provided by the American Society for Clinical Pathology and also American Medical Technologists.
Lab technicians can in future graduate to medical laboratory technologists. They can go for higher education and become researchers and scientists or even part of the senior administrative management. From the post of the clinical technician getting on to the higher administration is easy.
A definite career should be selected only when you are absolutely sure of your choice. The profession of being a medical or laboratory technician is best only for potential students who have been fascinated by science and never had a problem in repetitive work and training with a difference. Studying cells, tissues and blood samples every day with equal tenacity is something that one should find interesting or else they cannot enjoy their career with passion.
Stability is necessary in this profession and being a medical technician is an immensely stable one. The massive rate at which the profession is expanding, a steadily growing workforce of efficient people is extremely important. Except that every day the technicians must be present in the lab, nothing much about what they will examine throughout the day or their reports is predictable. It is like opening a box of unknown things every few minutes. You will never spend a dull moment in the laboratory. Also, it is very important to be hands-on here. You will have to find out the results and document them yourself for greater accuracy.
But the career in all probability will take off really fast in a span of hardly two years from the time the education starts. Responsible students are more likely to create a mark on their profession with their abilities. It is to be remembered all the time that the reports created by the technicians are the ones on which the entire treatment of the patient will be based. In fact, nearly 70% of the treatment depend on the results in the report. So, they have to be documented properly without any mistakes. Being patient-oriented is also something that is very important in such a profession because attention to detail is critical to this profession. Clarity in vision is very important in this profession because you need to view the samples clearly and make the documentation without any mistake. It is one of the most stable professions which is likely to offer a bright future.